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How sentimental are you?

May 20, 2012

The universe must have elected me to some office I didn’t know about this week. Wednesday evening I got home and there was a smashed animal in the street in front of our driveway. I scooped that up, triple-bagged it, and threw it out. I recognized it as the adorable bunny that’s been nibbling clover blossoms in our back yard.

Dead rat

Dead rat, click to embiggen. If you really want to see a bigger, more detailed picture of a dead rat.

Then Thursday morning as I rode into the courtyard of the building where I work, I noticed a dead rat on the sidewalk. We have some hawks or falcons or some other kind of raptors on campus so it isn’t uncommon to find a dismantled animal there. But this one, while the object of attention for three crows, was mostly intact. The sequence of events was probably raptor, crows, guy on bicycle.

I scooped up the rat, triple-bagged it and threw it out. And my first thought on seeing it was; “Hey, one less rat. And a big one, too.”

Except, on closer examination, I could see this was a mama rat, which had recently been nursing pups. I pictured a litter of tiny ones, eyes barely open, waiting for mama – and she doesn’t come back. Poor little cute baby rats.

Except wait – they’re rats! Shouldn’t I want them dead by whatever means?

Well, no. I can hardly even bear to think about those glue-traps for mice, for example. And the plight of the little baby rats does bring me sadness. But sentimentality is one facet of the 21-sided die that is irrationality. I would never think of killing a squirrel, but they’re basically rats with bushy tails. Well, it’s more than that; instead of skulking around in the shadows and fouling grain elevators, squirrels put on acrobatic shows in the quad outside our building. So behavior matters.

But still… poor little cute baby rats…

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  1. WeeDram
    May 20, 2012 at 19:10 | #1

    Today at the public market, there was a pre-fledgling starling wandering about inside Java’s, clearly it had fallen from the nest. It was “creek”ing, calling out for help. And outside on the sidewalk there was another, expired, who was finally retrieved by a crow.

    The tension is between compassion and the recognition that not all can be “saved”. What unfolds, unfolds.

  2. May 20, 2012 at 22:02 | #2

    Yeah. I would never actively (or even passively) kill a rat. But I recognize the need for rats to be killed, even if that means there might be baby rats without a mother.

    And I’ve cared for baby rats, too (in a lab).

    Of course, I don’t think I could bring myself to kill a cow, either, but that doesn’t keep me from eating beef.

  3. May 20, 2012 at 23:21 | #3

    Evil rats on no star live.

  4. WeeDram
    May 21, 2012 at 18:48 | #4

    I’ve stopped eating beef, and am working on not eating any muscle. We just don’t need to.

  5. May 21, 2012 at 20:51 | #5

    Reality says so what but George you made me stop and think and that made me sad!

  6. May 23, 2012 at 15:53 | #6

    Today I went to the store, then as I was driving onto our home street, I could see a squirrel tail at full staff, fur blowing in the breeze

    Yep, smashed body, eyes bulged out, about 8 feet from where I turn into the driveway.

    Perhaps I am the person who drove over it on my way out

    Blood spatter, also has a smell on the sun-hot asphalt.
    Flies all over

    I used the snow shovel (still on the back porch) to hoist it into the first grocery bag, then dropped that inside 2 others, tied shut tight, and carried to the trash bin
    the flies protested mightily, buzzing around my knees

    Tossed a bucket of water to wash away the worst of the blood, and some of the stink
    Hosed off the shovel

    Facts of Life.

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